The music industry was traditionally built around products. These are physical things that fans can buy once and experience again and again. A record, CD, or shirt is a product, and these were the main drivers of an artist's income in the past.
Today, however, physical products no longer make up as big a part of an artist's income. Fans no longer need to own music with the prevalence and easy access of streaming and YouTube. On top of that, with all the access fans get on social media, they are looking for experiences.
Experiences are unique; no matter how many meet and greets you go to, each will be unique, even if you're meeting the same band each time. Because of this, experiences are extremely memorable and shareable. Fans won't necessarily share when they download your song, but if they have the chance to take a picture with your at a show, you bet that's going up on Facebook.
The live show is the easiest place to start weaving in experiences for your fans. Of course, giving an incredible performance is a must, but there are certain things you can do to take it up a level and get people really excited to come out and see you play.
1. Personal access
Access to you as an artist is something a lot of fans will pay for. Of course, you can do a traditional meet and greet, but getting creative with this is what will really make your show stand out in your fans' memories. Try going out into the audience before or after the show to hang out, talk, and take pictures with your fans. You could also take it a step further and set up a Instagram photo booth with funny props and backdrops for your fans' photos with you.
Another option is to skip traditional gigs altogether and do a house concert tour. To organize house concerts, you're working directly with your fans to put on killer shows at their homes. This is a special experience for the host, but also for the people who attend. A house concert presents a much more intimate environment where fans can really connect with your music, and with you as an artist, before and after the show.
2. Early access
Early access is a big motivator for a lot of people. To be able to get something first is an incredible experience for a lot of fans, and something they will no doubt share. Today, the internet is usually the place to debut new music, but sharing new music for the first time live is a great way to create yet another experience for your fans.
Tell your fans you'll be performing your unreleased single at your shows this month, or take it up a level and say that you'll be performing the entire new album at one of the shows. Being there to experience the new songs first is an incredible experience, and some of your diehard fans will go to every show just to make sure they're there.
3. Audience involvement
One of the easiest ways to turn your live show into a memorable experience is to get the audience involved. You can get really creative depending on the size of your audience and your genre. For instance, a metal band could have a head-banging contest, or if your songs are danceable, have a dance-off. Get your audience clapping during some parts and singing back to you during others. Some musicians even bring fans up onstage to play simple instruments like a tambourine or shaker.
You could also take that involvement online. Fans are spending more and more time on their phones at concerts taking photos and videos to post to social media. Take advantage of this and get your fans live tweeting song suggestions.
[Why not use a custom hashtag for your band? Here are the five best practices of hashtagging on social media.]
As you can see, a concert doesn't need to follow the traditional format. There are literally endless opportunities to create memorable experiences for your fans, and this article is just scratching the surface. In the New Artist Model online music business courses, you’ll learn how to turn your music into a successful business – a business where you're the CEO! You'll create an actionable and personalized plan that will help you achieve a career in music, and you'll be able to do it all with the resources you have available right now.
If you'd like more strategies like these, you can download this e-book for free. It will take you through some of the best strategies for indie musicians to help you grow your fanbase and your career.
Dave Kusek is the founder of the New Artist Model, an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers, and songwriters. He is also the founder of Berklee Online, co-author of The Future of Music, and a member of the team who brought MIDI to the market.